On September 8th I asked my readers to host picnics and to send me the results. The following is one of 27 amazing submissions, the best of which will win an entire cow, courtesy of US Wellness. Vote for your favorite on October 8.
Preparing for the Grokfeast
We decided to center our Grokfeast around unusual meats. I found a source for elk at my local farmers market: Hawk’s Hill Elk Ranch. A local restaurant meat supply store provided the other meats – rabbit, duck, and Cornish game hen. The night before the Grokfeast, we had all the meats thawed, and the elk prepared and ready to go in the crockpot. At 3 am the morning of the Grokfeast (don’t worry, I was awake anyway to feed Derek), I started the elk cooking. Then, at a more reasonable time that morning, we started the rabbit cacciatore and roasted birds. After Michael was done removing as much rabbit meat as he could for the cacciatore, there was still some good meat left on the bones. So we added an impromptu soup to the menu to use the rest of the rabbit.
The Feast Itself
We were lucky enough to find an empty pavilion in the park with a fire circle next to it. Since the day was somewhat chilly (overcast, windy, in the low 50s), we began the Grokfeast by building a fire out of branches and leaves scavenged from the nearby woods.
Our guests had been asked to bring sides if they wished. They added salad greens and cherry tomatoes with olive oil and vinegar dressing, green beans, deviled eggs, and apples to the menu. One guest, having looked through the website and discovered the 80/20 principle, declared that she was a baker, not a cook, and that she would be bringing our 20%. So we had an apple crisp for dessert. We also had fresh apple cider from the farmers market to supplement the water Michael and I had brought. Derek, of course, had his own personalized menu, consisting entirely of milk.
The favorite dish was by far the elk – we called the dish pulled elk, since it resembles pulled pork. The roast duck was the runner-up; no need for me to supply the recipe, though, since it just involved putting the duck in the oven. The Cornish game hens were rather ordinary – perhaps unsurprising since, despite the name, they are actually just small chickens. The rabbit cacciatore (a tomato based rabbit stew) was also well received. The soup came out a little bland – perhaps in need of more seasoning or a thickener, but we were entertained identifying the bits of rabbit skeleton we fished out of soup bowls.
The Post-Feast Activity
Before the feast, I worked up a set of rules for a tag game called Tools vs. Teeth. Every participant was issued a strip of blue cloth, one of red cloth, and three bean bags. They would have one of three roles: deer, wolf, or hunter. Deer are only permitted to walk, or to sprint when they feel threatened. Wolves, indicated by wearing the red flag, can tag deer. If they do so, the deer becomes a wolf. Hunters, indicated by wearing the blue flag, may throw bean bags at deer. If they hit the deer, it becomes a hunter. Wolves can also tag hunters or hunters throw bean bags at wolves, in which case they revert back to being deer (and receive a head start before they can be tagged again). Hunters are taken out after one tag, wolves after two bean bags. One player begins the game as Chief Grok, who can survive two tags instead of one, and can use a foam spear in addition to his bean bags for tags. Another begins the game as the Alpha Wolf, who can survive three bean bags instead of two, and can use two foam swords (representing claws/fangs) in addition to his hands for tags. (We had the foam weapons on hand since most of us are LARPers, see www.ifgs.org) A wounded player (wolf, Chief Grok, or Alpha Wolf) who successfully converts another player regains his health. The game ends when either Chief Grok or the Alpha Wolf is taken out.
We played four rounds of Tools vs. Teeth. Each time we had ten players, as someone had to stay and watch Derek. For the first three rounds, everyone except Chief Grok and the Alpha Wolf began the game as deer. They were given two minutes lead time to disperse, and then Chief Grok and the Alpha Wolf left the starting point in different directions. The first two rounds ended undramatically in hunter victories. In the third round, we had a better sense of team tactics, and the round ended in a dramatic showdown between a pack of five wolves and a tribe of three hunters, with the wolves victorious. For the fourth round, we decided that since the pack hunting techniques were the best part of the game, Chief Grok and the Alpha Wolf would begin the game with an additional wolf and hunter as sidekicks. This addition seemed to improve the game – I would recommend it if you try the game yourself.
All of our players seemed to enjoy the game. We thought it would have been even better with a lot more people; we could imagine playing with thirty or forty people, and multiple wolfpacks and tribes hunting at a time. On the whole, it seemed to be a very successful primal activity.
Roast Cornish Game Hen
Fresh Apple Cider
Dessert (the 20%):
Recipe: Pulled Elk
Elk Chuck Roast
3 red onions
1 cup Marsala Wine
3 tbsp Ground Mustard Seed
Slice the red onions in half-moons. Place the elk roast in a crockpot and place the onions on top of and around it. Pour the wine over the top. Sprinkle the ground mustard seed over the roast. Cook on low for eight hours. Remove the bone. Shred the meat.
Michael Magness (Magness), Beth Magness (MamaMagness), Derek Magness, Nathan Bethke, Sam O’Reilly, Gwendolyn Halliday, Seth Mulhall, Kim Simmons, Kenny, Casey Erlandson, Jaime Frey, Deborah Hicks
Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.